Friday, July 06, 2007

Harlem Summer Shakespeare Presents Free 'The Tempest'

Pulse Ensemble Theatre, headed by Artistic Director Alexa Kelly, returns to NYC’s Riverbank State Park, 138th Street & Riverside Drive, on August 2nd with it’s third Harlem Summer Shakespeare production. The multi-ethnic, open air production of The Tempest, which begins August 2nd and continues through August 26th, is free to the public on a first come, first served basis and is a feature of Harlem Week.

This is the 3rd season the Harlem Summer Shakespeare has presented Free Shakespeare in Riverbank State Park, overlooking the Hudson River. The company’s first two seasons included critically acclaimed productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream followed by Romeo and Juliet, "where Lord and Lady Capulet danced to Marvin Gaye and Romeo first spied Juliet as she danced to The Black Eyed Peas!," state press notes.

"This 2007 production of The Tempest, where Izod shirts replace Elizabethan ruffs, continues the company’s tradition of updating the visual aspect of the plays while keeping Shakespeare’s language intact...."Set on a mountainous island near North Africa, The Tempest includes music ranging from The Bulgarian women’s choir and Pan’s pipes, to African drummers. Ms. Kelly said: “While last summer’s production of Romeo and Juliet was loosely based on the TV show 'Law & Order,' The Tempest has been inspired by 'Lost.'”

"In The Tempest, Prospero, the ever-gentle Duke of Milan, has relinquished his seat of power, to try to stop war and bring peace to the world. The powers that be, do not appreciate this gesture, and Prospero is kidnapped and sent away. In this visually contemporary interpretation of Shakespeare’s play, we find Alonzo and the noblemen traveling on their yacht with their Secret Service escorts. Ariel, a 3-headed spirit, executes Prospero’s magic, and the yacht’s crew is shipwrecked on Prospero’s magical island. Trinculo and Stefano, lost from all they know, search this new terrain and besport themselves in true 'drunken sailor' fashion with the drunken creature, Caliban."

Directed by Pulse artistic director Alexa Kelly, the production will feature sets by Joe Spirito, with lighting by Steve O’Shea, costumes by Courtney McClain and sound design by BrIan Richardson.

The Tempest will feature George Tynan Crowley as Prospero, Richard Vernon as Gonzalo, and Raushanah Simmons as the main body of the 3-of the headed spirit, Ariel (also played by Hannah Sloat and Linda Lee McBride), as well as Lauren Davis as Miranda, Bashir Solebo as Caliban, Dan Burkarth as Alonzo, Kevin Hauver as Antonio, Brian Cade as Ferdinand, Enrico Spada as Sebastian, Kate McCluggage as Adrien, Sheldon Shaw as Captain of the Ship, Manabu Ueyama as Master of the Ship, Udi Razzin as Trinculo, Joseph Raik as Stephano, McCluggage as Iris, Ryman Sneed as Ceres and Renee Threatte as Juno.

The Harlem Summer Shakespeare Project invites young people from the Harlem community to work with the professional acting company, and also offers free acting workshops. The project is sponsored in part by Con Edison, The National Endowment for the Arts, Hot Topic Foundation, Councilman Robert Jackson and the Department of Cultural Affairs and the NY State Office of Parks and Recreation & Historic Preservation

Pulse Ensemble Theatre, founded in 1989 by Alexa Kelly, is dedicated to making the Classics accessible and exciting to the youth of today; to multi-ethnic casting; to creating a nurturing environment for actors, and providing outreach programs to the community. While based on Theatre Row for 13 years, Pulse presented outdoor Shakespeare in their courtyard. After losing their theatre in 2002, Pulse began presenting free Summer Shakespeare in Harlem’s Riverbank State Park. The company also runs a weekly Playwrights’ Lab from which it develops a new play each year – they are currently working with the Indian American Arts Council on Reuters’ writer Anuvab Pal’s play “Chaos Theory.”

Harlem Summer Shakespeare presents free performances of Shakespeare’s The Tempest at Riverbank State Park, 138th Street & Riverside Drive. August 2-26 with performances Thursday-Sunday at 8 PM. For additional information call (212) 695-1596 or go to


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